Sunday, May 27, 2012


Today in Israel was the annual holiday of Shavuot, which commemorates the anniversary of the day that G-d gave the Torah to the people of Israel who had gathered at Mount Sinai. This day comes exactly 50 days after the Passover holiday. We count the days between Passover and Shavuot in a tradition known as the Counting of the Omer. In honor of reaching the Shavuot celebration on the 50th day, you will find the Western Wall packed with people praying all night long on the Eve of Shavuot. 

Shavuot is also known as a harvest holiday since historically it was the first day that the Jewish people could bring fruits to the Temple in Jerusalem. The seasonal fruits which are incorporated into this holiday include the seven species of Israel: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates.

Fittingly, it is the perfect time of year seasonally to feast on such delicious fresh fruits. It is also traditional to eat milk and cheese products during your Shavuot feast, including cheese blintzes, cottage cheese and of course fresh cheesecake.

Most modern day Israelis take this day off as a chance to get away with the family for a little vacation, some R & R, perhaps make a barbecue and definitely feast on some delicious cheesecake.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Jerusalem Day

Jerusalem Day, called Yom Yerushalayim in Hebrew, is celebrated annually every May. This celebratory day, which fell on May 20 of this year, is the day that the city was finally reunited after years of being split. It was the culmination of the 1967 6-day war and is Israel's greatest accomplishment and feat since its 1948 founding. The annual celebration is ridden with festivities, parades and activities all over Jerusalem.

This is what Jerusalem looked like today. If you would have found yourself in the city center you would have been in the middle of crowds and excitement such as this:


During the day you could have found special music performances, parades, discounts at restaurants, special events on university campuses and an overall excitement in the air in general. 

Happy Jerusalem Day to those who reside in this historical city! The recapture of Jerusalem as Israel's capital in 1967 is something Israelis relish in each and every day of the year, but is specifically commemorated today on Yom Yerushalayim.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Houses From Within

Houses from Within Tel Aviv is an annual event in which, along with 50 other cities worldwide, Tel Aviv opens some of its most architecturally and historically notable private buildings to the public for one weekend only, as part of the international Open House project.

Houses from Within Tel Aviv will include over 140 usually private spaces which will open up to the public on the weekend of May 17-19, 2012. These include a range of buildings – from some of the city’s most famous and iconic, to private homes and studios.

Not only will homes and buildings open up to the public, but also fun tours and workshops will be offered. It looks like many of them are already filled up for the weekend, so you best act quickly if you see something that interests you.

To see a full list of participating buildings, see the event website, here: Because some of the venues and tours require pre-booking, it is good to book your spot as soon as possible so as not to miss out.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bodies: The Exhibition

Even though this exhibit has toured the US many times over, I somehow have never had the chance to go visit it in person. I have always wanted to, intrigued by the concept of being able to see such things as real human fetuses week by week throughout a pregnancy as well as a healthy human heart sitting side by side next to a heart contaminated by smoking. Educational and inspirational, I've always wanted to see the exhibit but never been in the right location with the right timing. In the next few weeks, we will be getting TWO such exhibits coming to Israel.


The first is the more traditional and famous tour, Bodies: The Exhibition which will be opening its doors on May 21 at Tel Aviv's HaTachana Train Station complex in coastal Tel Aviv. The exhibit will run through the end of August.  The exhibit will be open from 10 am to 10 pm on Sundays through Thursdays and also on Saturdays, as well as additional hours on Fridays from 10 am to 2 pm. The entrance fee is 59 shekels, with discounted prices for students, soldiers and certain credit card holders.


As if this exhibit coming to Israel was not enough, there will be some competition. Nearby at Jaffa Port, another exhibit entitled The Human Body will be coming to Israel on June 27, 2012.


Not for the faint of heart, this duo of exhibits are something to put on your calendar in the near future if you've ever wanted to visit such an exhibit and to see cadavers in person for educational and inspirational purposes.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lag B'Omer

Today, the 18th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar, marks the Jewish holiday and celebration of Lag B'Omer. Between the holidays of Passover and Shavuot, we count these 50 days in a tradition known as Counting the Omer. Lag B'Omer falls on the 33rd of these days. Truthfully, this was one of those holidays that I really never experienced while growing up in the United States. However, it is certainly celebrated all over Israel. At nightfall, as the Hebrew days begins at sundown, you can smell burning bonfires in the air and likely see several of them throughout your neighborhood. This fire, the national symbol of the holiday, is meant to honor the death of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai who was one of Rabbi Akiva's greatest disciples.


From my little corner of Jerusalem I could certainly smell the distinct hint of burning bonfires coming from various directions. Although the holiday is celebrated all over Israel, the truly religious head up north to the city of Meron, Israel where Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was laid to rest. Here is an image of Mt. Meron in northern Israel:


In Meron, you would see thousands of religious Jews gathering for the festive celebration of Lag B'Omer including song and dance, the lighting of bonfires and other forms of feasting and celebration.

Also traditional on this holiday is for little boys to have their first haircut. Upon reaching the age of three, religious young boys will have their fathers cut their hair for the first time. The hair will then be thrown into the traditional bonfires. At the same time, wine and treats will be enjoyed.

Below is a video from the 2009 celebration of the Lag B'Omer holiday up in Meron, Israel. As you can see, it certainly attracts a specific crowd of people:

Just another two weeks or so (16 more days of counting the Omer) until we reach Shavuot, at which time summer will officially begin here in Israel!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Best Time of Year

Even though I'm cooped up inside the hospital on bed rest, I can tell you that the weather outside is beautiful. This time of year is one of the most stunning in Israel. You can count on sunny days finally day after day and blue skies with just the right temperatures. In just a month or two, it will be brutally hot. But for now, the entire country is relishing in the stunning weather that seems to make the world a beautiful place.

Flowers are blooming throughout the country in an assortment of colors.


Ice cream stands and fresh fruit juice shops are open and lined with patrons once again.

Cafes have opened up their outdoor dining areas.



The beaches are packed.

People are making their way outdoors for hikes, waterfall adventures and other outdoor activities.


This time of year also marks the beginning of many fun and festive outdoor festivals.

It's just about time for summer! Definitely the best season in any Mediterranean locale. Enjoy this recent video of a Flash Mob dance that took place at one of Tel Aviv's busy beaches. The fun energy sheds light on the good spirits that this summer weather brings with it: